Cheetah sighting in “W” National Park (Niger): A hopeful sign!
Samaila Sahailou, technical assistant of Arly and Pendjari National Park, reported that on31 December 2012a male cheetah was seen walking around camp Tapoa. The sighting was fortunately captured on photo camera by Mr Frédéric Modi, director of hotel Tapoa. (see photos below). This sighting is another indicator that “W” National park(Niger) still holds a small cheetah population.
During a recent survey, funded by the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative, by Philipp Henschel and colleagues of Panthera and partners only tracks of two cheetahs were encountered in Pendjari Biosphere reserve and adjacent Arly NP in Burkina Faso and zero cheetah tracks were found in “W” NP in Niger. This indicates the presence of a very small population of cheetahs. The survey did not find any evidence for the presence of African wild dogs and local extinction of this species is feared. The population of lions in the whole complex was estimated at 311 (123-498) lions, which is lower than previous estimates of Riggio et al,. (2012).
The Regional Conservation Strategy workshop for Cheetah and wild dogs held in Niamey in February 2012 will result in the publication of the Regional Conservation Strategy for cheetah and wild dogs for West, Central and North Africa and based on this, national conservation plans will be developed. It is hoped that action resulting from these national action plans will not be too late to save the remaining populations of these species from local extinction.
Pendjari Biosphere Reserve is very important as one of the last remaining strongholds of large carnivores in West and Central Africa, such as lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs and wild dogs. Therefore every observation of these carnivores is of importance and should be recorded. We would like to ask you when you have encountered any large carnivore in a park in West and Central Africa to inform us.